By Chris Wright
Crawley Town, the first non-league team to reach the 5th round of the FA Cup since Kidderminster Harriers in 1985, will be travelling to Old Trafford to take on the mighty Manchester United on Saturday, February 19.
The giant killers, who have already beaten Swindon Town, Derby County and Torquay United, took a well-deserved break at the prestigious Colina Verde Golf & Sports Resort complex near Moncarapacho.
Manager Steve Evans was in buoyant mood as his squad basked in the sun of the east Algarve.
“It is just the tonic we need,” said Steve speaking exclusively to the Algarve Resident. “We’re here to work but the lads are also enjoying a well earned break in these marvellous surroundings.”
The new full size football pitch at Colina Verde – it’s the same size as Old Trafford’s playing surface – was being used for the first time.
Back in Sussex, the Crawley fans were queuing through the night to get their hands on the €50 tickets for the big match.
Crawley has gone football crazy and all 9,000 tickets have been sold, with United being asked for a further 3,000.
“Our aim is to gain promotion to the Football League but to play at Old Trafford is every footballer’s dream. There are many top flight players who have never achieved it,” said Steve, who also hoped to get in a round or two of golf before travelling back to Sussex.
Colina Verde’s Paul Nagle was delighted that the new facilities, including the fully equipped gym, were being used by Crawley.
“It is not before time that the east Algarve had facilities to rival those found in the west. We have invested heavily to provide first class amenities in this tranquil part of the Algarve. We have already had enquiries from a number of top flight football and rugby teams,” said an enthusiastic Paul.
In the photograph, the squad have taken a break from training and are proudly displaying the scarves of local Premier Liga team SC Olhanense, who have their own important match against Sporting Lisbon tomorrow night.